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WFSU In the Grass, On the Reef
Slave Canal is one of those places I started hearing about a lot when we started doing our EcoAdventure videos. As soon as you get into the braided channels of the lower Wacissa River, it's easy to see why it's one of the popular river expeditions in north Florida. You're paddling in a canopied river swamp where people have been paddling for several thousand years. And minus some old growth cypress trees that have been logged in the last century or so, it looks much the same as it did when various native groups made use of the waterway to make seafood runs to the coast. But it doesn't look quite as it did when people first got there.
Evidence excavated at the Page/ Ladson and Ryan/ Harley sites points to people inhabiting what is now the Aucilla Wildlife Management Area for 12,000 years or longer. At that time, Florida Fish and Wildlife's Joe Davis told us, the ice ages were ending, sea level was lower, and the coast was further away. Those first men and women walked on dry land where our canoes and kayaks passed over. I can almost envision paleolithic man standing on one of the many ancient midden mounds as everything happens around him in time-lapse mode. Rivers fill and flow to the Gulf, mastodons vanish, and different cultures come and go, piling shell and bone on to that same mound. Pretty heavy stuff to think about on a fun Florida kayaking trip.
Music by Philippe Mangold